Badul case was ‘unfair’

2014-12-18 00:00

POLICE investigators were berated for abuses of power and “lack of objective and fair” investigation in the corruption case against ex-Mountain Rise station commander, Hariram Badul and his co-accused.

High court Judge Rashid Vahed did not mince words in his judgment which ­resulted in the acquittal of Badul and four co-accused — Suresh Naraindath, Yunus Khan, Bhekuyise Patrick Nkabini and ­businessman, Sigamoney Pillay.

He said some members of the investigation team should not have been appointed because of their previous difficulties with Badul.

The judge also said the application for search warrants and “unlawful processes” that were followed (to get them) raised questions about the objectivity of the ­investigators.

The use of one Mountain Rise employee, Msingaphansi France Bhengu to “trap” Badul and other suspects into information that could be used against them was a “gross abuse of power and process”, said the judge.

He said the “entire episode” where Bhengu was used to (secretly) record a conversation with Badul was “unfair and unlawful”.

The fact that there was “clear tampering” with the recording further tainted the entire investigative process.

One of the “most egregious abuses” he found was the selection of key “accomplice” witness, Inspector Yugen “Stanley” Ngubane as the state’s pivotal witness.

“On his own version he was not only a perpetual liar, but a fraudster and forger who flaunted the law when it suited him. Yet he remained in the force as a policeman with all the benefits and became a paid witness. An investigation based largely on his input, cannot be objective and fair,” said Vahed.

He said Stanley Naidoo was a witness “unworthy of belief” who would manipulate the facts when it suited him and do “anything to save himself”.

The judge also said there was a significant “lack of proper, objective investigation” into all the versions of the “204” or accomplice witnesses (including Stanley Naidoo).

Investigators didn’t try to establish if their versions were corroborated by objective evidence, or look into possible crimes committed by them. Instead they did everything in their power to find corroboration for their evidence, the judge said.

Concerning defence submissions that the investigative methods used left much to be desired, the judge said there was ­“ample evidence of brow-beating and intimidatory tactics being used and witnesses or accused being threatened”.

“These methods smack of an abuse of power and in itself could render the trial unfair,” he said.

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